Woodford County meeting brings out claws

Nick Vlahos

Cats and dogs were the main topics Tuesday at the Woodford County Board public-safety committee meeting.

That also seemed an apt description of the second half of a meeting that lasted more than two hours.

A discussion on changes to the animal-control ordinance turned when a Lowpoint veterinarian presented a case against the county having a full-time animal-control warden. The warden, Chris Hany, said Tom McKenna's presentation was the manifestation of a personal grudge involving the proposed change.

"I was totally blindsided," Hany said Wednesday.

McKenna denied he has an ax to grind with Hany.

"This is not a personal attack. The point is we don't need a full-time animal-control officer," he said.

Hany appeared barely able to conceal her anger during parts of a meeting that committee member Shannon Rocke twice complained was out of order.

"In Woodford County, nothing really surprises me," said John Krug, the committee chairman.

Krug said he had asked McKenna, who is his vet, for an opinion on the proposed changes to the ordinance. Those changes include different ways of distributing and classifying government vouchers for sterilization of cats and dogs whose owners have low incomes or who adopted the pets.

The county has spent more than double its $8,000 voucher appropriation for the fiscal year, which ends Nov. 30. Dog owners' registration fees fund the program. According to county records, from Dec. 1 through August, McKenna's practice had processed at least 28 of 82 total vouchers. That's more than any other vet or individual listed.

Hany said McKenna is upset because she favors the ordinance changes.

"I think everybody there (at the meeting) knew it," she said. "The committee saw funds were depleted very quickly, so they were going to rewrite the ordinance. It was not being abused by low-income families."

Through Freedom of Information Act requests, McKenna obtained documents that indicated Hany logged only 7.25 hours of work in one month last year while amassing a fuel bill of almost $200. Hany said some information upon which McKenna could base his figures was missing.

Hany, who said she is on call 24 hours a day, is paid $33,000 a year. She also operates a no-kill animal shelter out of her El Paso home.

"It's very difficult to know if our vehicle is being used for county purposes or if it's being used for shelter purposes," McKenna said. "I wanted to know how many hours the warden worked, because she has a business on the side."

The committee told Hany not to accept calls personally for animal retrieval and to instead route them through the county dispatcher. The committee also plans to formulate a procedure for Hany to document her travels and her time.

That procedure might be established in time for consideration at the next committee meeting, set for Oct. 11, Krug said. It can't come soon enough for board Chairman Stan Glazier, who had been advocating similar guidelines.

Said Glazier, who attended the meeting Tuesday: "It's embarrassing to allow a county employee to be blindsided like that."